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Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Adelphi (Cum Bac) movie theatre—Toronto

Adelphi 1108-N-105

The Adelphi (Cum Bac) Theatre in 1936. City of Toronto Archives, 1105-N-105

I was unable to discover the year that the Adelphi Theatre opened, but it was likely in the 1920s. Its original name was the Cum-Bac, likely a play on words as the owners hoped that patrons would Come Back to the theatre as often as possible. It was located at 1008 Dovercourt Road, on the west side of the street, a short distance north of Bloor Street West. It was a two-storey structure, with residential apartments on the second floor. It was an intimate theatre, with 460 plush seats, covered with leatherette. It possessed no balcony. There was only one aisle, which was in the centre of the auditorium, with six seats on either side of the aisle.

In December 1933, a stink bomb exploded in the Cum-Bac. The odour was so intense that one woman fainted, and the building was evacuated. It was discovered that a vagrant had committed the deed. He was arrested and when the case went to court, he was found guilty.

When it was renovated in 1936, by the architectural firm of Kaplan and Sprachman, the theatre’s name was changed to the Adelphi. In 1943, the theatre was again up-dated, the alterations designed by Jay English. I was unable to discover the year that the theatre closed, but it was likely about 1956. The asking price in that year was $60,000, for the entire building.

Adelphi - real estate pic.

The Adelphi Theatre from a real estate photo in the City of Toronto Archives. The film on the marquee was released in 1953, so the photo is likely from about the year 1956.

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The building that was once the site of the Adelphi Theatre became a church.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts on this blog about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Canada’s greatest maritime disaster—the Empress of Ireland

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Postcard of the Empress from the collection of the George Scott Railton Heritage Centre of The Salvation Army

Some historians refer to the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence River as Canada’s Titanic. The parallels to the Titanic are appropriate, as 1012 people lost their lives on the Empress during the early-morning hours of May 29, 1914. On the Titanic, 807 passengers drowned—the Empress’ death toll was 840 passengers. The final number of those who lost their lives on the Titanic was greater as more of its crew perished.

The question sometimes asked is—why is the sinking of the Empress so relatively unknown? By contrast, almost everyone is familiar with the story of the Titanic. There are several reasons for this, but none provides a satisfactory explanation. The Empress deserves a more prominent place in our history than it has received.

One of the reasons that the Empress fell into obscurity was that two months after it sank in the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence River, Canada entered the First World War. The latter event eclipsed the maritime disaster, pushing all other stories from the pages of the newspapers. When the war ended, four years had passed, and remembering those who had paid the supreme sacrifice in Europe became more prominent.

Some suggest that because the passenger list of the Empress did not contain the rich and famous, the public lost interest in the disaster. Whether this is true or not, it is a fact that the majority of those aboard were middle-class citizens or those who earned their living through manual labour. The first-class cabins of the ship were sparsely occupied.

Perhaps another reason that the Empress has not captured the imagination of the world at large is that it plunged to the bottom in a mere fourteen minutes, after a Norwegian collier, the Storstad, rammed into its starboard side. The event did not readily allow authors or filmmakers much opportunity to create imaginary heroes and romantic scenes compared to the Titanic, which took several hours to sink to its watery grave. There was no time aboard the Empress, as illustrated by the fact that the crew managed to lower only four of the ship’s forty lifeboats into the water. When the Storstad struck the Empress, the collision killed or maimed many passengers, while trapping scores of others below deck. Many perished before the ship sank.

I find it strange that some authors consider a tragedy that begins and ends within fourteen minutes as lacking literary appeal. I believe that the story of the Empress is intensely dramatic. The heartrending catastrophe deserves a more prominent place in our history.

The above quote is from the recently published novel that includes the sinking of the Empress, “When the Trumpet Sounds.”

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Photo of the funeral march on Toronto’s Yonge Street in 1914. Flatbed wagons pulled by horses transported the coffins to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Photo from George Scott Railton Heritage Centre of The Salvation Army.

“When the Trumpet Sounds” is the dramatic tale of a British family that immigrated to Canada in the first decade of the 20th century. The story chronicles their joys and sorrows in their adopted land as they mingle with diverse and humorous characters in the Earlscourt District of Toronto. The family’s oldest son is a mischievous lad, often involved in fist-fights. Eventually, he trades his fists for a cornet, joins a Salvation Army Band and as he matures, becomes its star player. When the band travels to England to participate in an international gathering, events sweep the young man and members of his family along a fateful path that leads to the decks of the Empress of Ireland. The story climaxes with the sinking of the magnificent ocean liner in the icy waters of the St. Lawrence River in the early-morning hours of May 29, 1914.

Though this is not a religious book, it explores many spiritual ideas. Why would God allow such a tragedy to occur? Where was God when the trapped passengers on the ship prayed for help? How does a mother explain the tragedy to her young children and answer their questions as to why their loved ones will never return home?

The characters in the story are fictional, but much of the information is based on real people. The author had access to the files, photos and letters of a family that lost a loved one on the ship. The details uncovered during the research add a degree of realism to the story that would have otherwise been impossible. The book includes descriptions of early-day life in Toronto, accompanied by over 70 archival photographs of the city in that era. The band that travels to England is based on the true story of the Canadian Staff Band, which lost most of its members on the Empress in 1914.

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“When the Trumpet Sounds” is available in an electronic edition for e-readers on Amazon.com and the Chapters/Indigo web sites, at a cost of $7.99. It is over 400 pages and can also be ordered in soft and hardcover editions from local book stores.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about the movie houses of Toronto—old and new:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Toronto

 

Memories of Toronto’s Beaver Theatre on Dundas St. West

Series 1278- file 63  photo 1947

The Beaver Theatre in 1947, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63

The district that became known as the Junction was originally a rural farming community to the northwest of Toronto. It centred around Keele and Dundas Street West. The name “Junction” was derived from the fact that it was at the “junction” of four railway lines. The southern terminal of the old Weston Road streetcars, which travelled north to the town of Weston, was at the Junction. The West Toronto Railway Station was on the east side of Keele Street, several blocks north of Dundas Street. The old stone railway bridge remains in use today, and continues to span Keele Street, although the railway station was demolished decades ago.

The since the Junction was a transportation hub, more and more people built homes in the area. It eventually became the town of West Toronto, which was annexed to the city in 1909. With the increase in population, more businesses gravitated to the area as well. It was not long before someone realized that the town needed a movie theatre. The man who decided to fulfill this need was William Joy. In 1907, he had opened a small theatre for live performances, named the Wonderland. It must have been profitable, because in 1913, William Joy closed the Wonderland and opened the Beaver Theatre, which cost $60,000. His new theatre was to show “moving pictures” and to feature vaudeville acts. He managed the new theatre himself. It was he who insisted that the Beaver have a fire-proof picture curtain, and personally supervised its installation.   

The Beaver was located at 2942 Dundas Street West, near Pacific Avenue. It was an impressive structure, especially considering that it was remote from downtown Toronto, where the demographics provided more possibilities for patrons. It was one of the first structures in Toronto purposely built for showing  “moving pictures” (the Bay Theatre was the first, built in 1909). The Beaver’s architect was Neil G. Beggs, and the neoclassical facade that he created was quite ornate. Its symmetrical design included an ornamented cornice, with an impressive row of dentils (teeth-like designs) below it. The facade contained smooth, glossy terracotta tiles that were glazed with a light-yellow patina. The lower lobby and foyer possessed alternate mirrored panels with frames of terracotta and rouge-noir marble. The auditorium’s colour scheme was antique ivory and green, and it possessed a large mural of flying cupids.The seating capacity was approximately 800, including a narrow balcony that was 50’ by 176,’ decorated with various shades of bronze. There were box seats along the sides of the auditorium, the box seats closest to the stage less than 50’ from the actors.

In 1918, the theatre was taken over by the Allen brothers, who owned the Allen Danforth and the the Allen Theatre at Adelaide and Victoria. In later years, the theatre was operated by  the B&F chain and was renovated and modernized. The box seats were removed, after the theatre was exclusively employed for movies.

In 1961 the theatre was closed, being one of the first to succumb to the onslaught of television. 

1278  File 63  Photo 1923   National Archives for all  

Gazing west along Dundas Street West in 1923. The Beaver Theatre is on the right-hand (north) side of the street. It would appear that in the photo the streetcar tracks were being laid.

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             Lobby of the Beaver in 1930, National Archives, Ottawa.

                    taken in 1930  DSCN4507

The lower lobby in 1930, and the railing above it that surrounded the upper lobby. Photo from the National Archives, Ottawa.

photo  1930

                                     Second-floor lobby in 1930

dated 1947

        The lobby in 1947, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63

Photo is in 1947

                                    Stairs to the upper lobby in 1947.

1930

Auditorium of the Beaver in 1947. The box seats on the side walls had been removed by this date.

1947

The screen and stage area in 1947, viewed from the rear of the balcony.

Note: photos are from the National Archives, Ottawa, except for the 1923 photo, which is City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts on this blog about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Toronto’s old Grover Theatre

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The Grover Theatre in the 1920s, gazing east along Danforth Avenue. City of Toronto Archives, Series 488, File 2960-2

The Grover Theatre opened its doors in the early 1920s, its name derived from the local telephone exchange. The above photo was taken shortly after its opening. Located at 2714 Danforth Road, it was on the north side of the street, west of Dawes Road. It was a two-storey structure, with apartments on the second floor that contained large windows looking out on busy Danforth Avenue. The Grover’s symmetrical neoclassical facade was relatively unadorned, including the cornice, but stone trim in a few selected places gave it an impressive appearance. The stone trim below the cornice contained a row of dentils. Shops on either side of the theatre’s entrance were part of the building; they were rented to provide extra income for the theatre’s owner.

The district was economically booming in the 1920s, after the Prince Edward Viaduct was completed across the Don Valley in 1919. When the Grover opened, there was already a row of theatres stung out along the Danforth, and it was the most easterly of them at that time. Being an attractive venue, and appealing mainly to local residents, the Grover was immediately successful. Its marquee was unpretentious, which suited a theatre of its size. However, the sign above the marquee was disproportionately large, visible for a considerable distance at night when the towering structure pierced the night sky.

The theatre became a part of the B&F chain in the 1930s. I did not discover much information about this theatre in the archives. However, there is a report that in 1935 three lads attended a Saturday matinee during their summer holidays to see Gary Cooper in the Paramount Studio’s film, “Lives of the Bengal Lancers.” Apparently the film made a lasting impression, since years later, the boys remembered seeing the film at the Grover. Many of us who attended Toronto’s old movie theatres forever link certain films to specific movie houses. Personally, I will forever associate “Gone With the Wind” with Loew’s Downtown (the Elgin).

In May 1963, the theatre was for sale for $70,000. It did not sell, so in 1965 it was again placed on the market at the reduced selling price of $52,000. In this year, it had already closed and the canopy was devoid of advertisements for movies. The theatre was purchased as a place of worship for a church congregation. Finally, it was converted into a nightclub. It is difficult to determine how much of the original building remained after it was renovated for this purpose. Likely, only the walls were retained.

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The Grover Theatre in 1939, its bright lights splitting the night scene on the Danforth. In this year, the marquee had been enlarged from the days when the theatre opened in the 1920s and the sign above it also altered. City of Toronto Archives, Series 880, File 350.

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                       The theatre when it became an evangelical church.

Grover

The theatre when it was for sale for $52,900 in 1965. It was no longer screening films when this real estate photo was taken.

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                  The site of the Grover after it became a nightclub.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts on this blog about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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The York Movie Theatre in Toronto

When the York Theatre opened at 812 Yonge Street, a few doors north of Bloor Street, it was considered an exceptionally fine theatre. Unfortunately, it was unable to sustain this status after Loew’s Uptown Theatre opened in 1920, a short distance south of Bloor Street. To compete, in the years ahead, the York offered double-bill shows, although the films were not recent releases. My recollections of the theatre are from the 1950s, when it had become rather shabby.

During the summer of 1955, I  worked at the Imperial Bank at Bloor and Yonge Streets, not far from the York Theatre. This was prior to the bank amalgamating with the Bank of Commerce to create the CIBC. My responsibility was to balance the bank’s Cash Book each day. I must admit that I had a terrible time and spent many an evening working late trying to balance the ledgers. This was a decade without computers or calculators, although the bank did have hand-cranked adding machines. This now sounds like a description of work equipment during the Mediaeval period of history. The bank was demolished many years ago, along with the York Theatre. However, because of my summer job, I can clearly picture the York Theatre in my mind.

I also recall that the Pilot Tavern was near the York Theatre, as it was next door to the bank, on its south side. The smell of the grease from the tavern’s kitchen invariably wafted into the bank. The Pilot was established in 1944, its name honouring the brave pilots that served in the Second World War. The tavern became a hangout for artists and musicians in the 1940s and early-1950s. It later relocated to 22 Cumberland Street in Yorkville, and remains there today (2014).

Plans for the York Theatre were submitted to the city in 1914. It contained almost 800 seats, covered with leatherette. There was a stage for vaudeville performances and an orchestra pit, but no balcony. A section at the rear of the auditorium was roped-off, and the seats contained arm rests. It is assumed that this area was reserved for smokers. In 1937, the theatre was renovated and a balcony was added, which contained 120 seats. In 1948, a refreshment bar was included, and in 1957 the seats were all redone by the Canadian Seating Company. At one time, the theatre was managed by the B&F chain.

I was unable to discover the year the theatre closed, but it was likely in the mid-1960s.

SC 303A-33

The view gazes north on Yonge Street from the intersection at Bloor. The canopy of the York Theatre  is visible on the left-hand (west) side of Yonge. Judging by the shadows, the photo was taken early in the morning, which accounts for the street being relatively devoid of traffic. The building on the corner (northwest) of Yonge, which has an awning, is a branch of the Bank of Commerce. City of Toronto Archives, SC 303A- file 33

SC 303A-33

The York Theatre, with its canopy advertising “continuous daily” screenings. Most of the shops surrounding the theatre have disappeared, as has the theatre itself. However, in the photo, on the far right-hand side, the tall Masonic Temple at Bloor and Davenport Road can be seen. This structure remains today and it’s one of the city’s heritage buildings. City of Toronto Archives SC 303A-33.

photo of York

The York Theatre at 812 Yonge Street. The tall building with the Doric pillars (second from the left) is the Imperial Bank where I worked one summer.

Harvey R. Naylor 1954

This winter scene gazes north on Yonge Street from Bloor Street in 1954. The marquee of the York Theatre is visible on the street at the front of the south-bound Yonge streetcar. I believe that the streetcar is actually a trailer car, pulled by a streetcar in front of it, which is not visible in the photo.  Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Harvey N. Naylor.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts on this blog about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

 

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The Kent movie theatre—Toronto

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  View looking north on Yonge Street from St. Clair Avenue in the 1940s. Photo, City of Toronto Archives,

The Kent Theatre was on the west side of Yonge Street , a short distance north of St. Clair. It was a theatre that I passed by many times when I attended either the Odeon Hyland or the Hollywood Theatres. Located at 1488A Yonge Street, it was one of the earliest theatres that opened in the Deer Park District of Toronto. Plans for its construction were submitted to the city in November of 1914, and it was to be named the Queen’s Royal Theatre. Its name was most appropriate for the decade, as loyalty toward the royal family and Great Britain were strong. Also, in August of the year that the theatre was being planned, the First World War commenced.

When the theatre finally opened, it contained 536 leatherette seats, two aisles and no balcony. It had water-cooled air for comfort during Toronto’s humid summers. The floor was of wood and tiles. The box office was located in the centre of the lobby. In 1934 the theatre was renovated by Kaplan and Sprachman, and perhaps this was when its name was changed to the Beverley. The name Beverley was retained as late as the year 1942. There is very little information in the archives about this theatre, and I was unable to discover when its name was changed to the Kent 

During the 1950s, the Kent screened B-movies or films that had been released several years earlier. I was able to view these films at theatres closer to home—the Colony and the Grant. As a result, although I remember the Kent clearly, it was a theatre I never attended. I was unable to find the year that the theatre closed.

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In this photo, likely taken in the 1920s, the theatre is named the Beverley.

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Looking north from Yonge and St. Clair, the old Yonge streetcars visible, as well as the marquee of the Kent.

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The intersection of Yonge and St. Clair, gazing north, the Kent Theatre on the left-hand side (west) side of the street.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts on this blog about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Toronto’s old College Theatre

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          The College Theatre in 1947, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 48

For several decades, the College Theatre’s curved facade dominated the northwest corner of College Street and Dovercourt Road. Located at 960 College Street, it was another of the theatres constructed by the Allen brothers, who also owned the Allen’s Danforth (the Danforth Music Hall) and the Allen (Tivoli) at Adelaide and Victoria Streets. The College opened in 1921 under the ownership of Allen College Theatre Limited, but was leased to Famous Players Corporation. It was one of the largest theatres ever built on College Street, west of Yonge. It contained almost 1500 seats, even though there was no balcony. Its facade was exceedingly plain, with an unornamented cornice. However, it was a comfortable theatre to attend, as its auditorium possessed four aisles and the seats were plush. The sides of the auditorium were richly ornamented with Wedgewood-style designs, and on the ceiling there were similar motifs and Art Deco style chandeliers.

The theatre was immensely popular during the 1920s, but the years of the Great Depression were financially difficult hard as it was not easy to fill a theatre of its size. However, during the war years of the 1940s, it thrived as many of the factories supporting the war industries were located in the west end of the city, within easy travelling distance of the theatre.

On July 6, 1953 there was a fire in the doorman’s room, which was extinguished by the manager. The audience was ordered to exit the theatre by the fire marshal, but 400 patrons refused to leave until emergency tickets were given out. Obviously they believed that there was no real danger or they would have departed the building quickly. It turned out that they were correct, as the damage inflicted by the fire was only $400.

During the 1960s, many theatres had problems due to the increasing popularity of television. The College tried various approaches to increase attendance. In November 1962, it held a Hockey Night. It was a great success, but unfortunately, it was the exception rather than the rule, and the number of patrons continued to decline. The theatre closed on March 3, 1967 and was listed on the real estate market for $300,000. It was eventually purchased and the magnificent theatre was demolished.

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       The auditorium of the College Theatre, Ontario Archives, AO 2050

College AO 2048

               Lobby of the College Theatre, Ontario Archives, AO 2048

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The College Theatre  in 1967, when it was for sale for $300,000. Photo from a real estate ad, in the City of Toronto Archives.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts on this blog about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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